Using animal models to improve the design and application of transcranial electrical stimulation in humans

Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2018 Jun;5(2):125-135. doi: 10.1007/s40473-018-0149-6. Epub 2018 Apr 25.


Purpose of review: Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) is a non-invasive stimulation technique used for modulating brain function in humans. To help tES reach its full therapeutic potential, it is necessary to address a number of critical gaps in our knowledge. Here, we review studies that have taken advantage of animal models to provide invaluable insight about the basic science behind tES.

Recent findings: Animal studies are playing a key role in elucidating the mechanisms implicated in tES, defining safety limits, validating computational models, inspiring new stimulation protocols, enhancing brain function and exploring new therapeutic applications.

Summary: Animal models provide a wealth of information that can facilitate the successful utilization of tES for clinical interventions in human subjects. To this end, tES experiments in animals should be carefully designed to maximize opportunities for applying discoveries to the treatment of human disease.

Keywords: animal models; brain stimulation; neuromodulation; plasticity; tDCS; transcranial electrical stimulation.